Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Costa Rica - Platanillo, 3/1/12

Uvita "Whaletail" beach
January was a rich month of purposeful contribution and rich community connections. February was a retreat month. We chose to rent a casita at Valle de Suenos, from our friends Glori and Gi, where we stayed last year in April, 20 minutes drive from the beaches of Dominical and Uvita. There’s not much to do there but enjoy the jungle birds and vegetation, soak in the soothing warm ocean breezes, cook yummy meals together, practice meditation and yoga, take walks in hills that put us in shape like a marathon, and write my book. I wrote the first draft of my book, Messages from Jason, and it feels so good to have met this goal for my retreat in this Valley of Dreams! I celebrated with the toucans, hummingbirds, and oro pendula birds. Next step is to send it to a friend who can review it to help me get it edited and published.

We ventured out of our retreat space a few times. We went into San Isidro to see our dentist; a crown costs $400 as opposed to $1200 in the states! We chose not to rent a car on this trip, to experiment with use of buses and catching rides with friends headed our way. It was a successful experiment and we were glad to be living more sustainably, not burning fossil fuels unnecessarily and saving $$ on car rentals. For Valentine’s Day, we took the bus to Uvita, 1 hr away, and spent the first day at the national park named after the whale tail that the coral reef formed, and at which whales can be viewed. We spent the night at the home of Flor, a Tica woman we rented from a couple of times last year, who prepared us a lovely yummy traditional full breakfast. The next day we headed to the beautiful Las Ventanas (“The Windows”) to check out the natural caves that the ocean waves explore with us. Our “cab” driver Negro, an old Tico in a very old Land Cruiser who Flor uses to help her get around. Cabs aren’t easy to find in Uvita, and our arrival at Flor’s the night before we had to walk 1 km up a steep hill because the cab we found wasn’t 4 WD; it was a fun night walk in the jungle with our headlamps!

Las Ventanas, Uvita, Costa Rica

Music was a big event for me this year in Costa Rica, as I brought my viola (now electronic!) so I could play with Dennis Gaumond and his Bhadra Collective. It was a blast rehearsing and performing! We played 2 gigs at an upscale bar called the Uvita Roadhouse, and at the Finca Fruicion Fiesta. Were were on a roll playing Dennis’ great middle-eastern and rocking kirtan and blues/rocks songs, and we both wish I could have stayed longer to continue our music collaboration, now postponed until next November. We plan to record together then!

(see Finca Fruicion blog for photo and video)

Our second side excursion our last month in Costa Rica this year was to visit our dear friends Sheya and Owl that we spent 4 months with last year in community, visioning for our move to Costa Rica. On the way, we stopped to visit the intentional community of Fuente Verde.  Sheya and Owl live 45 minutes up a windy dirt road from the “blacktop” in Tinimaste and across a river, that is low enough to cross in the dry season, in Aguas Sagradas (Sacred Waters), where they will be building their new home in this intentional community. The river skinny dip was delightful, and we enjoyed our dome-style cabina and fresh garden vegetables in this remote jungle.

From Aguas Sagradas, Sheya and Owl dropped us off at the H.O.M.E. (Heaven on Mother Earth) farm at the top of Nyacka waterfall, considered the most stunning waterfall in Costa Rica. We had fun playing by candle light, as the farm is off the grid. We enjoyed our stay in their creative cabina. The next day we hiked down to the Nyacka falls for an exciting swim, and drove back with John to visit friends in Las Tumbas before heading back to Platanillo, then off to San Jose and Massachusetts then Ashland, Oregon! Kule will be driving his car from Massachusetts to Oregon, visiting brothers and friends along the way!

Nayacka waterfall

Off the grid at the H.O.M.E. farm

Our transportation home from H.O.M.E.
The sacred Ceiba tree at the H.O.M.E.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finca Fruicion, Costa Rica 2/3/12

I’m sitting at the Garden CafĂ© at Finca Fruicion (*finca means farm) overlooking sacred Chirripo mountain and watching the lizards slither by. It’s a modest dining area, rustic really, yet as I sit writing it feels like luxury in this mountain jungle, complete with bird music. My partner Julio and I wake up every morning to a stunning sunrise across the San Isidro Valley, to yoga in our vista loft, and to a big community breakfast. I’ve been feeling at home here, in this special place, with lots of good energy happening to create this sustainable haven that is destined to be a model for other communities.

As we have travelled this past 1 ½ years in the U.S. and Costa Rica to find our next home, to find the sustainable lifestyle we want, and to find loving spiritual community, we have come upon several special communities. Finca Fruicion is one of them. The owners of the farm, Jason and Alana Thomas Bliss, are visionaries, doers, community-makers, friends of the local farmers, and inspirers. They are creating a home that is meant to be shared with others who resonate with this vision of building community together, with shares of land available for sale so members can live autonomously as well as cooperatively. They are co-creating models for sustainable living such as building with local materials, educating about reforestation, growing their own food, buying from local organic farmers, helping the local economy, and providing a community center called La Ceiba in the city center, which is the hub of the wheel for the mountain dwellers who live here for this type of lifestyle. It’s a gathering place to sip a cup of tea with friends, to listen to music, to have community meetings. We are grateful to Jason and Alana for their generosity in providing this space for us.

Doing Yoga and Building bunkbeds at Finca Fruicion
No one will tell you that living in Costa Rica is easy. What we are discovering is that it is key to have your neighbors be your friends and support, and vice versa. At this time of evolution on our planet, I truly believe this is the most important thing for our health and well-being. Local wisdom is invaluable in getting to know the ropes about everything here. Finca Fruicion is integrated into the village of San Augustin; one of their 3 sons is starting school there this year. They have dear friends and adopted family here. Their lead gardener and maintenance helper Albis is a friend, and his mother cares for 1 ½ yr old Cedar and calls him her grandchild. Jason and Alana are always available to help their village neighbors and San Isidro community whenever possible. They have a lot on their plate, raising children, building a farm, and managing special community and educational projects. They are manifesters, and attract support. People come and go to help the farm, and most are seasonal, which can make the rainy season a bit lonely and challenging, but I’m imagining beautiful in a different way.

Finca Fruicion gardens
We will know when we are ready to settle in Costa Rica, perhaps in another year or two or three. When we are, we will want to settle in a place like Finca Fruicion. We seek a spiritually-minded community where members communicate well, share resources well, care about each other, integrate beautifully with the local community, and take responsibility for their own triggers and challenges. We are grateful to have Jason and Alana and their family as our friends here in Costa Rica.

Gracias, Finca Fruicion.

Julio Morpho

3/1/12 addendum:
 I returned to Finca Fruicion for their Fiesta 2/25, where I played viola in Dennis’ Bhadra Collective band. A small turnout, but great community energy and excellent Tico food by the locals, and so nice to reconnect with our friends at the Finca. We were moved by the tightness, sweetness, and hard-working nature of the family of Albis (Finca Fruicion’s lead maintenance person), who all came out to cook home-grown tilapia and awesome shish kabobs. I also reunited with my Tica sister Lorna who may be living at Finca Fruicion when we return in November!

My gig at the Finca Fruicion Fiesta


Costa Rica Sustainability School - 1/2/12

KuleMichelle blog – 1/12/12 (just catching up after returning to the U.S.!)
Casa Tordesillas, Costa Rica, El Paso de la Danta sustainability school

It’s an honor to be contributing to the first sustainability school of this kind in Costa Rica, El Paso de la Danta (the path of the tapir) at our friends’ Chema and Marga’s place (http://www.casatordesillas.co.cr/ ) in the mystical cloud forest high above Uvita beach and with a view of Costa Rica’s tallest and sacred mountain Chirripo.

Overlooking the Uvita beach whale tail from Casa Tordesillas

Casa Tordesillas

It’s also a tribute to my journey this past year with Kule, that I have travelled far from my old world of consumerism, and have learned so much about sustainability myself! We are doing what we can to help make these two weeks a success – bringing special hand tools that don’t require electricity from the U.S., dome building (Kule, of course), videotaping, leading meditation and sound/music, interviewing the teachers and students to create a record of the school, picking fruit, and sweeping floors, anything to help.
Chema teaching dome building!

This group of 16-23 yrs local Costa Ricans is great; they are enthusiastic and inspired to live more sustainably, the way their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. They want to teach this to others; this pilot program is the hub of a wheel that is turning to spread change in this country and the world. They are learning organic gardening in the tropical rainforest, ecology and biology, sacred economy (based on sharing resources, not consuming them), reforestation, building a dome with mostly local materials, and healthy daily practices such as Do-In, meditation, yoga, capoeira, and eating Marga’s healthy food. They are learning teamwork and living in community, this is the pueblo (village) model that Chema is pioneering. It will eventually be a school where people live, as domes are built around the new mandala garden.

Chema and Marga are sustainability pioneers, having moved from Spain to buy land in Costa Rica and live off the grid for more than 20 years. They are expert horsemen, gardeners, builders, and craftpersons. They have had the vision for this school for these 20 years, and live the model. Their home is a paradise getaway for ecotourists and explorers like us.
With Lorna and Blanca in Casa Tordesillas

Living off the grid sounds too rustic for most, but at Casa Tordesillas it is elegant living. Their dome structure is large and accommodates 20 very comfortably, including the hosts who live upstairs. We are lucky to have the “pareja” (couple) room to ourselves, and all 5 guest rooms, built around a central fireplace under the second floor dome, have their own bathroom with hot showers and flush toilets. Not too rustic, huh?

The hot water is a mixture of solar and propane; the latter kicks in sparingly as needed. The lighting is provided by romantic candelabras and occasional flashlight and headlamp use. Cooking is done with propane, and perhaps in the future Kule can set them up with a solar cooker, like the one he designed and built at Lost Valley this summer. They use their fireplace in the evenings to warm up the cooler night air and to dry up the humidity of the cloud forest.  They have been able to harvest most of the wood they need by the side of the dirt road they live on, and they also have several acres of forest to draw on.

Although Casa Tordesillas is off the grid, Chema solar-charges his 3.5G cell phone, with internet connectivity, for important business communications. He writes important documents on his phone, and colleagues type them up into documents needed for the school and other workshops and the B&B business. Chema is a manifester! Not having electricity doesn’t get in the way of progress!

Being remote poses travel challenges, and most people are dependent on 4-wheel vehicles on these mountain roads. There is a bus from the nearest pueblo, ½ hr by foot, into town once a day. The 45 minute taxi ride from San Isidro costs $40, which is much less expensive than renting a car at $55 a day. However, Chema and Marga ride their horses into town to get basic provisions and take the bus in to San Isidro for other needed shopping. Visitors come and go to Casa Tordesillas, and they often bring what is needed from the city on their trip up the mountain.

Those unfamiliar with this region of Costa Rica assume that bugs must be a major issue. In fact, we are not even using the natural bug spray we travel with, and the only insects we have seen in this open-window house so far is a large spider (that does its job to keep the small pest population very low), an owl butterfly, a dragonfly at the end of its life cycle, and tiny ants that get to unswept crumbs in the dining area (no eating in the bedrooms for this reason). Chema and Marga have consciously designed their home with insect-repelling landscaping, natural insect-repelling wood materials, and EM (bacterial fertilizer) that provides a balance of nature and keeps insects out of the home.

The trick to living sustainably is to follow the natural rhythm of light, rising with the sun at 5:30 AM (to do morning Do-In and yoga), doing the day’s work before the sun sets at 5:30 PM, relaxing with interesting discussion, music, and hangout time after dinner by candlelight, and retiring by 9 PM. We’re getting into the flow, and it feels really really good and natural to follow the sun.

Speaking of natural flow, I’m doing what I’m guided to do, moment by moment. I’m enjoying writing, reading, visioning, connecting with nature, taking walks, and meditating. I’m getting a break from email and internet, and I’m experiencing what it’s like to not be in the electronic environment, with communication demands. I’m actually finding myself wishing that one of the parents hadn’t loaned them a generator (actually needed for refrigeration of the large amount of food) being used to charge cell phones and computers. Of course, then I couldn’t be writing this blog right now, and documenting daily progress of the school. Well, electronics has its place in sustainable living in our modern world!

Everyone that comes here comments on how wonderful the energy is here. The second floor dome has a beautiful view of the rainforest and the famous Uvita beach whale tale, where whale migrate in the fall months. The sacred geometry of the dome provides the perfect energy for meditation, Do-In, yoga, and workshops. The circular geometry of the first floor living room creates the perfect environment for community building and interesting discussions, with dining room views of the rainforest and the biological corridor for many birds and animals.

Walking on the land is not simple. The horse pasture remains muddy and full of horseprints that make walking slow. The rainforest paths are steep and muddy, as is most of the land here. The steep dirt road that climbs down into Uvita passing groves of toucan-nested trees requires careful footing over the rocks that were paved into the dirt road for better car traction. There are numerous creeks in steep embankments, and to get to a swimhole in this water-abundant rain forest is a vigorous 30 minute hike over slippery creek boulders. However, being in the cloud forest, the mist blows through us before mid-day into the afternoon, so we never get so hot and thirsty for water immersion. It’s a different way of being in Costa Rica! I love this area, it is so mystical. If we move here, we may choose a sunnier area. However,  we are thoroughly enjoying this extended visit, much longer than the 3 days we visited for the first time in April last year when we befriended Chema and Marga.

Again, we are honored to have been asked to be part of this special and needed venture into spreading sustainability in this beautiful country, with wonderful souls, on this gorgeous land.

An evening in Casa Tordesillas with Chema and Marga